"Mysterious Ways" - U2


Track Listing:

Background Information

“Mysterious Ways” was the second single from Achtung Baby, released shortly after the album itself. It first took shape as a song called “Sick Puppy” during a series of difficult recording sessions at STS Studios in Dublin. “Sick Puppy” eventually became the musical blueprint for both “Mysterious Ways” and “One.” U2 continued to fine-tune “Mysterious Ways” throughout the remaining recording sessions, right up to the album deadline, with a guitar overdub being added after the final mix had already been finished. The single was released on December 2 in a wide variety of formats. The sleeve is a photo of the back door and tire of a trabant car. This image can be fit together with the sleeves for three other Achtung Baby singles to form a larger image of the band riding in a trabant. The “Mysterious Ways” sleeve is the bottom left of the image, with “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” the top right, “Even Better than the Real Thing” the top left, and “The Fly” the bottom right.

Two-track formats of the single (7-inch, cassette, and Japanese 3-inch CD) contained the album version of “Mysterious Ways” as the A-side with “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix),” running more than eight minutes in length, as the B-side. The 12-inch vinyl and 5-inch CD releases would add additional remixes of the song, making this the only Achtung Baby single not to include any unique B-sides, only remixes of the title track. Howard Gray, Trevor Gray and Steve Lillywhite would produce “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix)” and “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix).” British band Apollo 440 would contribute “Mysterious Ways (Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix)” and “Mysterious Ways (Tabla Motown Remix).” The previously mentioned “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix)” combines the best of the “Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix” and the “Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix” into one version, and is credited to Apollo 440, Howard and Trevor Gray, and Steve Lillywhite.

An alternate four-track version of the 12-inch vinyl, and a bonus CD bundled with the standard CD single in Australia, included two additional remixes of “Mysterious Ways,” the first being “Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix),” remixed by Paul Oakenfold. The other was “Mysterious Ways (Ultimatum Mix)” which was remixed by the group Stereo MCs under the name Ultimatum. The Australian CD was released in a simple card sleeve featuring different artwork than the main single, with the catalog number “U2 FREE.”

The video for “Mysterious Ways” was directed by French photographer Stéphane Sednaoui, produced by Phillippe Dupuis-Mendel and edited by Verique Lebars. It was filmed in October 1991 in the Medina of Fez in Fez, Morocco. Special effects were employed to warp the video images using mirrors. Sednaoui filmed numerous street scenes in Morocco, some including the band and some not, as well as shots of Bono dancing, cobras writhing, and a belly dancer gyrating against an image of a blue moon. The video appeared on the compilation Achtung Baby: The Videos and has also been released on The Best of 1990-2000 video compilation and U218 Videos. In 2005 the clip was also collected on the DVD compilation The Work of Director Stéphane Senaoui.

“Mysterious Ways” debuted live during The Zoo TV Tour, and was played on every night of the tour as well as on every night of the following PopMart Tour. During the Zoo TV shows, U2 had a belly dancer live on stage during the song. The original dancer, Christina Petro, was replaced by Morleigh Steinberg for the Outside Broadcast shows. Steinberg had previously appeared in the “With or Without You” video but had not met the band at that time. She and The Edge began dating during The Zoo TV Tour, and the two married in 2002. During 2001’s Elevation Tour, “Mysterious Ways” was again played nightly during the first two legs, but was only played five times during the final North American leg. “Mysterious Ways” has remained a frequent presence in U2’s set list however, being played at just over half of The Vertigo Tour shows and at 85% of the U2360° shows. “Mysterious Ways” was also played at every show on the Innocence and Experience Tour, but only appeared at 23.5% of shows on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour.

Live performances of “Mysterious Ways” have been released on Zoo TV Live (Sydney Australia, November 1993) and Go Home: Live from Slane Castle (Dublin, September 1, 2001), both of which are available in video format as well as in audio format as fan club CDs. It was also recorded live at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concert held in New York City on October 30, 2009, and released on the accompanying CD and video releases. In late 2011, U2.com members were given the opportunity to choose between 46 songs performed on The U2360° Tour for possible inclusion on a live album, U22. “Mysterious Ways” performed in Cape Town, South Africa on February 18, 2011 was among the choices, and received enough votes to be included among the 22 tracks on the final album.

“Mysterious Ways” has appeared on a number of different compilations of U2’s work including the “Zoo TV Tour” promo, the “Previously” and “WFM 96.9” promos, and the U218 Singles compilation. “Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix)” has appeared on the Melon fan club album, some copies of the “Previously” promo, the “PopMart Sampler” promo, and the multi-artist Rock O’ The Irish compilation (although, in this case, it is mislabeled as the “Manifesto Mix”). “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix)” was featured on The Best of 1990-2000 & B-Sides release and associated promos. A slightly different version of “Mysterious Ways” appeared in 2002 on The Best of 1990-2000 compilation. It is the same mix as the Achtung Baby album and single version, except that the line (at 1:35) “she’s the wave, she turns the tide, she sees the man inside the child’ has been replaced with “she’s the wave, she’ll turn the tide, and no question, she knows why.” It is thought that a different master was mistakenly used when the song was being remastered for the 2002 release. Finally, the “Achtung Baby Solicitation Kit” promo contains short snippets (less than two minutes each) of four songs from the album. The “Mysterious Ways” snippet on this release is from an earlier, unreleased version of the song, not the album version.

In 2011, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Achtung Baby, the album was re-released in multiple formats, including a single CD, a 2-CD set, a vinyl box set, a “Super Deluxe” edition, and an “Über Deluxe” edition. Unlike previous U2 reissues, this project was not called a “remaster,” although some sonic tweaking, overseen by The Edge, had been done. The 2-CD set included a disc compiling single b-sides and remixes, including “Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix).” The vinyl box set included the album as well as two 12-inch vinyl remix compilations, which included both “Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix)” and “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix).” The 6-CD “Super Deluxe” and “Über Deluxe” formats included “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix),” “Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix),” and “Mysterious Ways (Ultimatum Mix)” on the “Über Remixes” disc, and “Mysterious Ways (Tabla Motown Remix),” “Mysterious Ways (Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix),” and “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix) on the “Unter Remixes” disc. The “Über Deluxe” version also included a repressing of the 7-inch vinyl “Mysterious Ways” single, which was backed with “Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix).” Finally, the 6th CD in the “Super Deluxe” and “Uber Deluxe” formats, Kindergarten-The Alternative Achtung Baby, contained demo or alternate versions of every song from the original album, including a version of “Mysterious Ways” with significantly different lyrics to what ended up on the final album.

Liner Notes

Mysterious Ways (Album Version):
Written by U2. Produced by Daniel Lanois with Brian Eno. Engineered by Flood. Additional engineering by Robbie Adams. Assisted by Shannon Strong. Mixed by Flood, the Edge and Daniel Lanois. Assisted by Shannon Strong. Additional percussion by Daniel Lanois.

Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix):
Additional production and remix by Howard Gray, Trevor Gray, Steve Lillywhite and Apollo 440.

Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix):
Additional production and remix by Howard Gray, Trevor Gray and Steve Lillywhite.

Mysterious Ways (Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix):
Additional production and remix by Apollo 440.

Mysterious Ways (Tabla Motown Remix):
Additional production and remix by Apollo 440.

Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix):
Additional production and remix by Howard Gray, Trevor Gray and Steve Lillywhite.

Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix):
Remixed by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne.

Mysterious Ways (Ultimatum Mix):
Additional production and remix by The Stereo MCs a.k.a. Ultimatum.


Photography by Anton Corbijn.
Design by Works Associates (Dublin). Car painted by Thierry Noir (Berlin).

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